I just met with a student who's been semi-blowing off my survey this semester. I'd found out that ze's a major and will be enrolling in my upper-level seminar in the fall, so I decided that it was necessary to give hir the ol' beat down. For me, however, the "beat down" consists of lots of gentle reminders that ze can come to me if ze is having problems, that I'd much prefer to work with hir than to simply hand out zeros, that ze clearly has some great things to contribute (which ze does, more or less) and that I would love to hear from hir more.
I was so gentle--which was not my original intention, but I knew immediately that it was how this thing was going to play out. And even then, the tears welled up--several times!--and so I would start asking about what other classes ze was taking, and so forth. When really, I was within my rights to be harsh and stern. What's wrong with me? Or does this work? I hope that it works. I really do. And it seems to have worked, sometimes, in the past: the student realizes that I see hir, that I'm aware, that ze hasn't been working hard enough, and usually improves. Or doesn't, in which case ze's lost my attention.
But then, I'm worried about that damn nurturing stereotype (and I'm not a maternal-looking person, but I'm so exceedingly nice), and it makes me want to apologize to the rest of y'all.
Late for a faculty meeting that promises to be full of rage. Catch you on the flipside.